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MR S. BUXTON AT THE TEMPLAR HALL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2438, 31 May 1890
MR S. BUXTON AT THE TEMPLAR HALL.
Last night Mr S/Buxton,' M.H.R. for Rangifcata, addressed hifi" constituents in the Templar Hall. There was ;a very poor attendance, and the Mayor presided and introduced - Mr Buxton, who stated that, he was not disappointed at seeing the small audience. He had been suffering during the week" "ffom'a severe cold, 'and*ifc:was doubtful at one time if he would.be there at all that night. If that had been the case, the*e~ would ..not, have, been many people disappointed.
HIS PARTY. ,- . <_ t The party he belonged to had been fc ailed - the many headed monster, the c •arty with many heads, and' no head.: t Jut the Party—the Opposition—at the 5 |, >eginning of the session had their eye 3 ipon a man whom they ultimately chose a obe their leader—Mr John; Ballance. f le (Mr Buxton) had been well satisfied t vith the way in which their leader had c ionducted the business of the Opposition; A He was the best man they had and he had j, lone the work given him to do in as g itraight-forward and honest a manner as T t was possible for any European to do. T TRIENNIAL LICENSING BILL. , x One of the first Bills of the session was t ;he Triennial Licensing Bill. It was srought in by Major Steward, the member "or Waimate. He (the speaker) was sp posed to it, but not to the same extent is he had been the previous session. He was in hopes that the Bill would have been amended to admit of women getting »n equal power of voting with men, but unfortunately that clause had not been passed, and as the Bill now stood when the elections of 1891 for Licensing Committees came round, those committees would be elected for three years instead of for only one as formerly. He did not think, however, that the cause of temperance would suffer from the passage of this Bill, and he sometimes, thought that the temperance men, amongst whom he ranked himself, were a little narrow in their views, and. would be all the better to have them enlarged. EIGHT HOURS' BILL.. . .■**"' He had done all he could to oppose the Eight Hours' Bill of Mr Joyce, and had tried to pursuade that gentleman to abandon it, as it seemed to him that in its then shape it was totally unwprkable. Eight hours in each day were to be considered a days' work; and forty-oight hours in each week a week's work. Working men would at once see that this Bill was not necessary, at least, in Canterbury; and the Bill looked to him to be more against the interest of the working' maii thatinhisfavor. Farmers had never tried to impose more than eight hours upon a man for a day's work in Canterbury, and in the towns it was.a generally understood thing that eight hours formed the'day's measure of toll. But Mr Joyce would have no amendment. How could they possibly manage under such a measure with engine drivers in charge of sawmills, with men who had to attend to horses'in their feeding, stabling, etc. ; with shepherds who went out mustering; with domestic servants who. had to prepare food ; and in a great many other cases ? If this Bill had become law, it would have taken the ground from under fcbe feet of the working men, and gave them uo protection at all, TliQ formation of trades' unions would bo far better protection to the working men than any measure of this kind, which was altogether useless. Let any man bring in a sensible, reasonable Bill that should be a benefit and a protection to the working classes, and it would receive his hearty support, but he would never vote for any piece of claptrap like tlie Eight Hours Bill, whose meretricious show was, to his mind, only intended to look well in the eyes of unthinking possessors of votes, If the Bill came for--1 wartl supiin tliies oi:»Bum,~lit> -would VOtO just as he had clone the'session before, unless his constituents were able to show him some very cogent reason why he should change his mind. I THE HARB SYSTEM. Mr Buxton spoke at some length on the Hare system and expressed the opinion that were a House elected on that system it would be a very aristocratic House, and subsequent parliaments would become more and more so, until the afftiirs of the colony were wholly managed by the men Avho owned landed property. Under such management ho would not be as- i tonished to see the residential qualification' disappear ; but certainly under the Have system the ordinary rank and tile of the present Parliament—the men who were not known beyond their own constituencies—would not be very numerous in the House,
REPRESENTATION -BILL. j After a reference £6 the Representation j Bill of last session, the speaker, while deprecating stonewalling under any circumstances, strongly defended the action of the country members in fighting j against the town members the battle of j the quota. In a few breezy, racy | sentences Mr Buxton told ho\v, while the town members were forgetting their go.od manners and speaking of country people as bumpkins, clodhoppers, and so,forth, he had felt righteous wrath rise within him, and had risen in his place in the House and given utterance to his thoughts about the men who used such language. However, the Bill became law, and the best part of it was the "one man, one vote " idea of it. He believed in this, and gave an illustration of how the plurality of' votes worked unfairly. Suppose a man had, 10,000 acres in ten different parts of the colony. If he could vote in all these in one day, he might do so, for the old law allowed him the votes. Suppose a man had 20,000 acres in only one district. He could only vote in that district, for his property was' in that district only. Then a man could go and buy quarter-acre .sections in as many districts as he chose, and in buying these sections he bought "a vote for each,. 'The new :Act terminated all this. Take Mr John Grigg's estate for instance. He .would be only too. glad to see very many t"'»vp "u^h ftvrhir"^ iri *'-- Colony asMiMiii-:'. ••••■■■. ■.» ■■ •■■"■■.■ i\> I large numbers of men. Say he employed 200 men. These men had an equal right with Mr Grigg himself to say who should represent them in Parliament, for it was out of the toil of their blood and bone that Mr Grigg was aide to pay the clues and expenses of the land he worked, and reap the profits it brought him. The men might not be so intelligent as their master was, but their right to say who should represent them in Parliament was equal with his. He (Mr Buxton) would go further and say that every woman had a light to a vote the same as men. They were quite as intelligent as men, and he Avas not certain that a Parliament of Avomen Avould not do better work and govern the Colony better than a Parliament of men. OTAGO CENTRAL. Last session he Avas strongly in fa\ rpr of the Otago Central Railway Bill while it was under the charge of the member for Dunstan, and had stood by Mr Pyke, Avho was trying Avith a strong majority of the House at his back, to have the line constructed by a landed syndicate and he (the speaker) thought, that the best way. But the Premier brought in the Bill in a ncAV form. He proposed to take £15,000 from the unallocated loan, and £200,000 from the trust funds of the Colony to make the line. 'He was opposed to this, as he feared the land that was to go to defray the cost of the line, would get into' the: hands of people who would probably leave the colony, and sell the ' i land at a high figure to the men who i Avould come after as genuine settlers. He, I nuderstopd there was to be no more
-borrowing, but the Premier's Otago A I Central Bill was simply another form of 1 1 borrowing—borrowing behind a curtain.' j I Why not say boldly, "We want to go j upon the money market again to borrow j 1 funds to make this line V And if they i were to do this sort of thing for the Otago * Central why not do it for all the other ( places in the colony where railways were wanted ? So far as the necessity for the Otago Central was concerned, he believed it would be a good thing for Ofcago and the colony generally, but there were the §3 ( who objected to the 'lme'lfecatfsiiPifP would 1 take away a large'; portion of the, runs now • held by large landowners. --•'-:- " j .- „ CALEDONIAN TniSTU 1.. The Bill dealing awl:i I lie Calodnninii thistle he had opposed, and if it came before the House again, he would again oppose it, He had . the Californian thistle uppn his own farm,"and he knew 16 well. It was none other than the old English thistle with which all English and Scotch farmers were more or less familiar. He objected to legislation for the eradication of such things, and the only way to keep down farm pests was for each farmer to, do his best to keep his own place clean. If that were so, and farmers in their own interests would strive to keep down weeds, there would be not necessity to waste public; money in the payment of inspectors to go round and see that farmers looked after. their own business. PROPERTY TAX. He was one of those who objected to the property tax being replaced by a land and income tax, and the speaker eulogised the speech delivered by Sir Harry Atkinson, against the latter. The property tax was the fairest direct tax in New Zealand., It might perhaps be slightly injurious to the colony in many respects, but it brought in the largest revenue, and: affected the poor and industrious classes the least. It would,. perhaps, be better: if improvements were not taxed so heavily, aud he had been at first with the' proposal made by the leader of the Opposition for £2000 to be the exemption. On second thoughts, however, he did not, think this would answer in towns, and hewas afraid that, though it would be a great benefit to many farmers, they, would be .asking too much. One, gentleman proposed to sell the railways and do away with the.property tax: but this proposal' was' not, of course, very favorably re-> ceived. The property tax must stand andnot at anyrate be 1 replaced by an income; and property tax: , . EDUCATIONAL FRANCHISE. Major Steward had tried hard and* persistently to do away with the cumula-; tive voting at the School ..Committee" j Elections, and the people of the Colony* were with him in his efforts, but as yet he hadnot been successful. It was, how-: ever, only a question of time when they would vote for their School Committees in the same way they voted for members; of any other representative bodies. : LAND : LAWS'. 'I ,
" The land laws of the colony were not satisfactory to the people. A great deal of. dummyism went on that prevented; settlement. What they wanted was some-] thing tliat would enable the working classes to go upon the land, and supply them with work. Last year9ooopeople left this colony. Of these more than 4000 were adults. Had our land laws been such as would have offered homes to those people they would never have left these shoresito add to the population of the neighboring colonies. It was proposed last session to set aside £10,000 to secure land near agricultural centres on which to settle working men, and the Premier himself had been favorable to this. This was lost by only one vote. Had that been carried many of the men who had left the colony would have been j here still. £70,000 had also been asked to bring more immigrants into the colony, but when only £10,000 was asked to keep in the Colony the men we already had it was refused. Ifc was likely thiifc next session they would be asked to set aside a sum to -bring in more immigrants. There was no unemployed outcry just now, and everybody seemed to be in work, but if a flood of immigrants were turned upon the Colony, there would be the same old cry for work, and the wages would come down. He was quite sure tliat if we could give those who had left us bread and butter in our own Colony, they would soon all come back again, and there would be no need to go to Europe to bring over from her labor ranks recruits to glut our own. The next subject on which he desired to'make his vieAvs as plain as possible Avas that of
THE BIBLE IN SCHOOLS
Last session they had no Bill on this subject before the House, but during the coming session it was likely they would have one. He had with him a copy of the Bill it was proposed to introduce, and would read the principal clauses. These proposed to enact as follows ; Clause 2, "The school committee of any school " district already, or which may hereafter "be constituted under ' The Education "Act, 1877,' may sanction the daily " reading, with or without comment, of "a portion of the Bible in the public " school or schools in such district within " schdbl hours, and such reading shall be "in accordance with the schedule attached "to this Bill. (3) Where comment is "allowed, the instruction given must be " of a strictly unsectarian character suited " to the capacities of the children, who "may be questioned thereon." Now he ,was opposed to these clauses in so far as they permitted what was termed religious -instruction. He would have the Bible read, but without comment. In, his (opinion nothing would cause more dissatisfaction among the parents and more disputes among thc^ children than the exposition of the Scripture in the schools. But to shut out the Bible entirely was a very grave mistake. He could not see' anything Avorse for the coming genera-tion-than to withhold the Bible from the children of to-day. The Bible was the grand pillar of civilisation and truth, it might be freely read in the palace, in the contractor's' tent, on shipboard,: even in •the gaol and the hospital and, Was it only to .-tie forbidden to the children in -the school ? Surely that it should be Avas a great-Avfong to the coming generation; He believed that they Avould all see by and by that as Christian men it was thenduty to rise and say, if the Legislature Avould not alloAv the Book of Books to be read in the schools, '' We musb do something to help ourselves." What ho asked was that the Legislature should alloAv the Bible to be. read, not that it should be interpreted by any teacherorany minister, in the day schools. He avoulcl have the instruction given purely secular, There should be no religious teaching, but the Bible should be read, leaving it to make that impression on the minds of the children which was in accordance with the will of its Great Author. Surely even those adults who did not believe that to read the Bible Avould do them good would not contend that it could Eossibly do them harm. The Bible ad given to the British Empire its greatest liberties ; \t had done more than I aught else to open the gates of Commerce, ! and to lead to every social and practical good ; it had taught them to open their hands to the Roman Catholic and to the JeAv; had taught them far more and better .than had the ministers of religion, for often ministers were narrow in their views, and told them to do what the Bible did not teach them. He reiterated that he was strongly in favor of the Bible being read in the day schools, but without comment. .■ Referring to the Schedule of portions of Scripture attached to the Bill as those to be permitted to be read; Mv Buxton said that he had looked into it carefully and quite approved of the selection made by Mr Tanner and the other members of the Committee. There'
were some parts of the Bible which ought 4
not to be read to children—such for 1 instance as they would omit in reading in the family—and these were omitted by the Schedule of which as ho had before said he entirely approved. Then there was another measure about which lie desired to be equally explicit. This was the PRIVATE SCHOOLS i!ITX. This was a Bill about which lie had been threatened that if he did not Lake up ..different .ground it. would prevent his being sent to Parliament again. Well, if he made up his mind to offer himself again as a candidate, he should do so with the intention of winning, and he desired to put himself right with regard to this Bill. The Bill was a very short one. What it proposed was this: " Every private school which is, or may be hereafter, conducted in accordance with',, the provisions of ' The Education Act 1887j' and the Acts amending the same, and'the regulations framed thereunder^ in respect of the qualifications of teachers, the course of instruction, attendance at school, and inspection by an Inspector; of the Board of Education, shall beentitled to receive a capitation allowance equal to . . of the allowance granted to public schools established under the said Acts : provided that no such school shall be entitled to such allowance unless the average number of pupils attending the same be ... or more." Now he had been very plainly told—though he scorned the idea— that the action he had taken in supporting this Bill had been taken for the purpose of pleasing the Catholics and to catch their votes. He would not lower himself to do ■such a thing—the Catholics would, not respect him if he did—but he recognised the matter as one ,of great importance to. these particular people. The Bill indeed used to be called the Roman Catholic Schools Bill; but last session those who were supporting the Bill thought they would gain their end better by altering the title to the Private Schools Bill. He. knew many ; ministers of, the Church of England who unless the Bible were introduced into the • public schools would feel it : their duty to do something to secure that their children should be "taught elsewhere, and other churches were looking on and he felt per- ; suaded would ere long rise and do their : duty. Indeed he "considered that the ; Roman Catholics had set them a noble ! example. They said "if the public schools are Godless we must, make a • sacrifice," and they made it ; being '* determined that their children should be ': taught the fear of God. And it was fair « that they should ask for some assistance, and it was on that ground he supported ' the BUI, in the interests of the Roman ) Catholics especially. He thought they were not fairly treated. Suppose that '.. those of the people of New Zealand who \ were Protestants were living in a Roman Catholic country and formed one-seventh of its population; suppose that in that '■ country there was none but a-Roman Catholic system of education', or a secular : one with no religion at all, would not '• they wish their children to be taught the ' Protestant religion',", to ."be-, taught the ' Protestant Bible ? And would it not be J right in such case that they should ask the Government of that country for 1 some assistance when they were taking I our money to educate Roman Catholic 5 children. Certainly it would ? A gentle- ? man to whom he had used this argument : replied. "Ah ! but you wouldn't get ifc— \ you might as well ask them for their eye 5 teeth." Ha (Mr Buxton)rejoined "That is 5 not the question—would it be right to ask?" ' "Well, yes,' was the answer, perhaps it 1 would." Then said the speaker " Let us 1 do what is right." As a country they 1 were not doing what was right and. just. ' Let him put it in another way. Suppose. they gave the Roman Catholics £2 a head 1 for every child in their schools, there 3 would then be a saving of £2 a head to 1 the .State, for every child in the State J schools cost about £4. In point of fact } they would only be giving 'back to the " Catholics something like what we take from them to educate our own children. 3 The present state of things was not right in the sight of God or man, and whether 3 they sent him to Parliament or not he ? would not do to his fellow men what was I wrong. He would not do what was wrong , to the Catholics, come what might to himself. He meant to do what he thought r was right, and must leave the issue to v them whether they approved of his , conduct or not. And now he had a few words to say about;
The future before us was, he feared, not very bright. There Avere storms ahead, and next session was not looked forward to, by him at anyrate, Avith any very pleasurable anticipations. There Avould be great difficulties to contend with and very unpleasant work •to do: The present outlook of the country was not very satisfactory. The two millions of loan money which they had at the beginning of the present Parliament Avas very nearly exhausted, and the Government Avere looking right and left trying to discover some Avay to borrow more. But he hoped that the people of the colony Avould set their faces against borroAving money, either from the Trust funds or in the European market, and that they would get for themselves a better standing before they spent much more in public' works. There were no doubt parts of the colony in which public works were much needed, and the expenditure of money on such public works would, 'no doubt, be a good thing for the Avorking classes, - if they could afford it. But they should try to establish their position securely first, and should move sloAvly and steadily in the right direction. He did think that the Colony had begun to move in the right direction, at last; but it Avas very sloAvly, and he hoped.it would continue to do so. If it should happen "that the Government go out- of T office and the Opposition take.their^placejche'should be, very pjeased, He h lad no^feaV for ''the" powers, and ability,oorf r the. Opposition, He had ;looked> into 1 theu^prbodediiigs and had every faith in them.' On that side of the House they had gentlemen quite capable of conducting the business of the country in-- a better Avay than it Avas now being conducted. He would even like to see a coalition Government if only men would come out and be true to their oavii views and principles, Sir Harry Atkinson, he believed, was more of a Liberal in his views than people generally supposed, and he Avould like to see him among the Liberals, but he Avas too busy minding his points and trimming here and there, He, however, did no ' like to say anything against the Government in that place and Avould not expose their faults too much to the public. What he had to say about them he would say to them direct, but he did not hesitate to say that he had more faith in the Opposition than he had in the present Government. (Applause.)
I In answer to Mr Cates, Avho wanted to 1 know if Mr Buxton atouM support a vote for Almshouses or Old Women's Homes, Mr Buxton said old and infirm women were, he was happy to say, tenderjy oared for in this country, In a residence of- 25 years'he had never seen an elderly woman neglected, but if the need arose for s.uch provision as the question indioated, he Avas sure Parliament would gladly make it, Mr Keir asked if the Bible in Schools Bill, and the Private Schools Bill passed, Avould it not have a tendency to break up the present Public School System ?
Mr Buxfcon thought it would have quite I the opposite effect. If the Bible was 1 kept out of the public schools then the I Public School System would be in clanger. ( (What amounted to an argument of the i case between the questioner and Mr Bux« I ton here took place), ♦
In answer to another elector, . who J wanted to know why provision was not. made for the other 300 different Churches I as well as for Roman Catholics ■ . I
jMv Buxton said the Private Schools Bill provided for others as well as Catholics—it provided for all private schools.
In answer to Mr Loggatt, ■ Mr Buxton said he would be In favor of land nationalisation if it were practicable. He did not think it was, but his opinion strengthened .day by day .that-the best land law ever proposed in the Colony was the perpetual leasing system, which lie | gjivo Mr Holies ton every credit for introducing. ' ' '" """ Mr Leggafct.—Then why did you support the. Otago Central" ''.Railway Bill which proposed to give large blocks of land to a syndicate 1 Mr Buxton;—To .avoid a worse thing; which 1 woujd be the; building of the line with tborroweid money,< and jtthen selling fche'land tib speculators," wh(sf would wring large profits ou(Tof 'iqna fde settlers. :- In answer to a series of further ques"tions by Mr Leggatt, Mr/Keir, andrthe Chairman on the subjecfcvof a ; ;liand-tax versus a Property-Tax, Mr Bu'xiion rer iterated the opinion that a -TLiand-tax would bear more heavily on the small land-owner than does the present Pro-perty-tex. He also said' that he.would ■not object to lowering the exemption from £500 as at.present to say £250.';Mr Andrews, senior, proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Buxton for his address and of confidence in him as the representative for Rangitata. This was seconded by Mr Keir : who, although he dissented from some of Mr Buxton's views, yet with regard to others was heartily agreed with him. . ' ' .'.- i
The motion was carried by acclanation and acknowledged by Mr Buxtonj who thereupon moved the usual" compliment to the chair -which having been accorded the meeting broke up, •
MR S. BUXTON AT THE TEMPLAR HALL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2438, 31 May 1890
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